Monday, January 4, 2010


Last night we watched "Iron Jawed Angels" and saw something of what the leading suffragettes suffered to bring Pres. W. Wilson to his knees on the question of the women's vote. The scenes that depicted episodes of forced feedings dredged up some of my earliest memories.
When I was 8 years old a routine school screening for TB identified me as a public threat. My Mantoux had proven positive and an x-ray found lesions in the LLQ (left lower quadrant) of my right lung. I was removed from my home and confined to the Glen Lake Sanatorium at Oak Terrace MN. During my isolation period I was subjected to a horrific procedure called the GAS (gastric analysis series). Five fearsome adults dressed in isolation masks, caps and gowns entered my chamber and pinned me to the bed while a sixth attempted to shove a tube into my mouth. Of course I clamped my mouth shut, so my nose was pinched until I opened my mouth to breath. The tube was quickly thrust into my mouth. I closed my teeth on the tube and continued fighting for my life. Since my cooperation could not be attained the tube was withdrawn from my mouth and stuck into my right nostril! I writhed and twisted so violently that the tube could not go down my throat but reemerged from my mouth. A pan of ice was brought in and the tube was placed in the pan to harden. Then it was forced into my nostril and down my throat. A loud motor was turned on to pump my stomach. I endured this terrifying abuse on 3 consecutive mornings. The specimens were examined in the lab and tubercle baccilli were discovered. After a period of confinement to the TB San I would be released. But not until I was subjected to another GAS to prove that I was "clean" enough for society. I know something of the suffragettes suffering as I have endured similar torture six times.
Mae Sarton shared thoughts concerning her muse. "It has been wonderful to be able to write these poems, such a sense of liberation, of using my best gifts again." Yes, when we liberate a poem we set our Self free, too. Yogananda's advice for today is also familiar. "A spiritually thirsty person... should go to the best well and drink daily of its living waters."
Louisa Mae Alcott wrote in her journal Jan. 1857 when she was 24 years old. "Why don't rich people who enjoy his (father's) talks pay for it? Philosophers are always poor, and too modest to pass around their own hats." On Jan 1, 1855 Louisa wrote, "The principal event of the winter is the appearance of my book Flower Fables. An edition of 1600. It sold very well." What a delight for a writer to find her efforts financially rewarding and enjoyed by the reading public.
How I long for grace and space to write a memoir of Brandon. Even if only for my own friends and family. But the emotional pain of exploring all those precious memories seems too formidable to face for the duration of such an undertaking. Mary O tells us, "To live in this world you must be able do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and when the time comes to let it go."

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